SUSPENSE: One Facet of Mental Toughness
"We all live in suspense from day to day; in other words, you are the hero of your own story."
- Mary McCarthy
Suspension, we all deal with it at one time or another: interruption, postponement, delay, deferral, stay, cessation, end, halt, stoppage, dissolution, and termination, are all words used to describe suspension.
For those of you who know me well, you know I am not a person to withhold my feelings, unless there is a specific reason to do so. As life is too short to not let the people you care about know how much you care about them, let the people you love know you love them, and let those you are grateful for and appreciative of, know without a doubt of your gratitude.
So, here I am today, writing solemnly on a subject I hope will bring peace to other souls, as I believe in sharing whatever needs to be shared if it can help someone else either now, or somewhere down the road.
Years ago, I doctors believed one of my daughters had a brain tumor. She went in for a scan. Our family lived in what I call ‘suspension’, for several days. Suspension, not knowing what will happen, not knowing the outcome, wanting so badly to have all the answers now, but instead having to wait it out.
You’ve been there, be it job, marriage, the life of a loved one, waiting for your next deployment, moving, so on and so forth. We all experience those moments in our life, where life itself seems to come to a complete standstill, yet somehow we are still moving through space and time.
I experienced this when my oldest son passed on. As I sat holding him, it was as if time had stopped, all noise had ceased, and I was privileged to share in one of the most sacred experiences I’ve ever had. Saying goodbye is not an easy thing. As others lives seemed to go on after the funeral, mine still seemed to linger in a dead time zone. It took some time to learn how to deal with a loss that seemed insurmountable, yet I have come out a much stronger person for it.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE SUSPENSION?
Some choose to drink. Some smoke. Some turn to drugs, sex, or pornography. I don’t believe any of these are the answer. The way I see it, we have a choice, we always have a choice in how we choose to respond to ‘suspension’, we can go on living our life in limbo, doing harmful things to preoccupy our thoughts so as not to feel hurt, pain, and discomfort, or we can stand a little taller, look that demon right in the eye and make the conscious decision to not only maintain our character and values, but to learn and grow with it in the meantime, no blaming, no complaining, just work through it. I believe it’s moments like these that are the defining moments in our lives. I call it going through the refiner’s fire. Only those who can walk through it, standing tall, dealing with the flames, taking step by step to the other end, know what it is like to come out on the other side, a changed person, a much stronger person. I believe a person can learn more by facing adversity head on in one week, than another learns by running from it, for years, or an entire lifetime.
When going through the fire, I will generally keep it to myself, until I have seriously been pushed through all mental, physical, and emotional limits I thought I had. This is when life pushes you even farther, you do not know where the umph will come from to get you through, but somehow you do it. Then I will say something like, “Currently going through the refiner’s fire”, to my teams, and they get the message, and let me know I’m not alone.
There is much talk about Mental Toughness. There are many facets to Mental Toughness. However, I believe one of the greatest shortcuts to achieving Mental Toughness is learning to recognize, investigate, plan, and deal with the moments of suspension in our lives. Some call it adversity, I choose to call it suspension, it’s a learning experience in the making, cease it. Do not fear it. You shall overcome.
FOUR STEPS IN OVERCOMING SUSPENSION IN OUR LIVES
First off, you need to realize you are in a moment. Don’t deny it, overlook it, or esteem it as a thing of naught, for if you do, it will only grow in size, and overwhelm you. Recognize you have an issue that’s needs to be dealt with, and you’re the one who needs to do the dealing, no one can do it for you.
Use all resources available to you, gather all the information you can, and arm yourself with as much knowledge on the subject, person, event, etc., as possible. Know what options are available to you, where they can be found, how they can be used, and who can help you obtain them if need be. Don’t be prideful, people need people, and you can always learn something from everyone you meet.
Devise a plan, better yet, make a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and so forth, as you will soon find out that no one plan has all the answers you need. You must be flexible in achieving success in your endeavors, for rigidness will set you up to fail. Ponder your plans, make change where change is necessary, understand some things need to change for a short time, others for a season, yet others may go on changing forever, this is why one must be flexible, or you set yourself up for disappointment.
Work your plan(s), just as you would your job. Be faithful, dedicated, and don’t give up at the first sign of opposition, remain steadfast and grow from the experience. Make note of what is working in your plan, and discard what is not. Don’t waste your time fretting and/or worrying, as it is truly a waste of time, and time is just too valuable to waste. Period!
4. DEAL WITH IT
Yes, it’s hard. No one ever said it was going to be easy. How many times have you heard, the best things in life don’t come easily. Direct your thoughts and energy to overcoming, see beyond the person, event, and/or circumstance. When you feel expired of all resources, as you surely will, take a brief break, go hiking in the mountains for a day, fishing, go see a comedy, spend time with friends, sleep for 16 hours straight, do what works for you.
We all have these moments in our lives. Grow from them. It doesn’t mean you can’t cry, yell, scream, punch a bag, or let out some steam, we’re human, it just means don’t do it for weeks, months, and/or years, get it out, get it over with, and I promise you will find more than you bargained for at the finish line.....until your next ‘suspension’ moment comes. Hugs!
I want to express my thanks to my TIGHT Teams, as you are all over the world, and I appreciate your support! I hope to meet each and every one of you. If there is a subject you’d like me to hit on the blog, just e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org